If you have natural hair, identifying your curl pattern is the most important part of your hair care routine. There's a range of hair types that encompass naturally curly and coily hair textures and knowing your curl type is a must. 4B hair is characterized by a distinct Z-shaped pattern of tight, dense curls that shrink in length when dry. Once misunderstood, or treated as unruly, more and more people are embracing their 4B hair exactly as it grows out of their heads. If you’ve been wanting to grow out your natural curls and aren’t sure where to start, we’ve put together a definitive guide to 4B hair — including the best tips and product tips to help you on your natural hair journey. Read ahead for more!
Hair types are used to give you a general idea of what to expect from your hair and how to choose the right products and techniques. Type one is straight hair and lacks any subtypes. Type two refers to curly hair and is further broken down into 2A, 2B, and 2C. Type three is for curly hair with a corkscrew texture and also has three subtypes. Most people think of hair as either straight, wavy or curly hair, but there's another type. Type four is for coily hair with four subcategories, 4A, 4B, 4C and 4D. So what is 4B hair and what does 4B hair look like?
The biggest difference between 4B and other hair types is the pattern of the curl, and this is the key to identifying it. The curl pattern of 4B hair is less defined, hence the zig-zag pattern. 4B hair types tend to have sharp angles and look fluffy and dry. 4B hair also tends to have a high density, which means there are more hair strands on the scalp.
People with naturally coily hair textures sometimes resort to chemical treatments to straighten or soften their strands. But these treatments need to be repeated often and the chemicals can take a toll on your hair. Falling in love with your natural hair texture and embracing your tight curls involves experimentation and finding what works best for your unique hair. Beyond the physical aspects, embracing and celebrating 4B hair is a journey of self-love and cultural connection. This hair type is deeply rooted in the diverse heritage of individuals, carrying with it stories of resilience and identity.
The key to managing 4B hair and avoiding damaged curly hair lies in understanding its specific characteristics. Known for its densely packed zigzag pattern, 4B hair is fragile and can be prone to shrinkage and dryness. 4B hair thrives when it's well-hydrated, making moisture a non-negotiable aspect of your hair care routine. Due to the shape of the coils, natural oils have a harder time traveling down the hair shaft, resulting in a higher likelihood of dryness. Regular deep-conditioning and gentle handling is crucial for maintaining the integrity of 4B hair. In addition, these tips will keep your 4B curls happy and healthy.
The LOC method is incredibly beneficial for your frizzy hair. Following this method allows you to add plenty of hydration and moisture back into your dry strands. In turn, this will make them frizz-free and more optimal for styling. More on this below!
One benefit of having 4B hair is that you don’t need to wash all that often. In fact, you actually shouldn’t wash it too much. Stick to washing it once every two weeks. If you feel you need to wash more, stick to gentle hair products.
4B hair types are incredibly prone to breakage and dryness. Blow-drying only exacerbates it. Instead of using a blow dryer, air dry your strands. If you must use heat to dry, use it with a diffuser to protect your curls from frizz.
Your curls need a ton of hydration, more than you think. You’ll want to use as many moisturizing products as possible and a lot of them. There is no such thing as too much product for you, as your 4B coils will soak them up quickly.
Don’t brush your hair, or even a wide-tooth comb. Your best bet at minimizing damage is to detangle your curls with your fingers. And always be sure to detangle on wet hair, never dry coils.
4B hair lacks moisture because of the sharp angles making it difficult for sebum to coat the entire fiber. So the best products for curly hair are hydrating and infused with natural oils, like jojoba and coconut. Wash day routines are integral to hair health, so it's important that the right products are used to wash, detangle, and style hair. For 4B hair, washing hair weekly with a moisturizing shampoo. Since type 4B hair tends to be quite dense and coarse in texture, washing hair in sections will help get the hair scalp clean, which is important for dense hair types. 4B hair can benefit from co-washing (washing your hair and scalp with conditioner) but this technique should not replace the use of your regular shampoo. Don’t forget to use a leave-in conditioner after each wash and to follow up with a good oil to seal in moisture.
Use the LOC method for best results. The LOC method is very straightforward. The letters are a mnemonic device that will help you commit to memory the order of your hair care products- Liquid/Leave-In Conditioner, Oil, and Cream. The LOC takes careful consideration of how to layer products in a way that maximizes moisture retention. To get more specific, the term "liquid" in the LOC method generally refers to water or a conditioning hair spray that uses water as a base. Leave-in conditioners are typically also water-based. The term oil in the LOC method is oil. Oil-based products create a layer around the hair shaft that prevents water from escaping, which in turn helps hair to stay moisturized for longer periods. Creams do a similar job, but as the last step in the LOC method, they are meant to be the heaviest out of the bunch. Whether your hair prefers a thick moisturizer like a hair butter, this final step ensures hair has retained as much hydration as it can on the hair shaft. In addition a weekly hair mask can work wonders in enhancing the elasticity and shine of your curls.
When it comes to styling curly hair, 4B hair thrives with minimal manipulation, so consider low-maintenance protective styles to promote healthy growth. Twist-outs and braid-outs are popular choices for achieving defined curls, while other protective styles like bantu knots and twists can help maintain the hair's health and length. Twist-outs create defined curls, while Bantu knots offer a playful and voluminous texture. Braids can be styled in various ways, from intricate patterns to loose, carefree styles. accessories such as headwraps, scarves, and hairpins can add flair to your 4B hair, enhancing your overall look. To ensure that your 4B curls hold these styles, using a gel or curling lotion can help to both clump hair strands together and enhance the curl pattern. It's easy to neglect your protected 4B hair while wearing a protective style, but just like your natural hair, your protected hair needs additional moisture. Apply a light oil to your scalp once or twice a week when wearing braids or cornrows. Protective styles are an ideal option for any naturals that love a wash-and-go hairstyle. They not only showcase the beauty of 4B hair but also protect it from damage caused by excessive manipulation. They’re also versatile, allowing you to switch up your look without compromising the health of your natural curls.
If you have natural hair, identifying your curl pattern is the most important part of your hair care routine. To get the most out of your 4b hair type, your best routine requires a significant amount of moisture, minimal reliance on heat, and regular protective styling is required. Follow our tips for proper care and maintenance as well as the recommended products for 4B hair. Use only high quality curly hair products like the ones from Davines.
by Jaclyn LaBadia, featured contributor